Monk Variant: Fighting Styles
(Unearthed Arcana variant, p. 52)
In literature and lore, the combat styles and aptitudes of a monk depend greatly on where (or by whom) she was trained.
All starting gold, skill points, class skills, hit dice, and class features all retained from base class, Monk, unless noted.
A 1st-level monk (regardless of character level) may select one of the fighting styles described below. By selecting one of these fighting styles, she dictates which bonus feats she gains at 1st, 2nd, and 6th level (when a monk normally gains one of two bonus feats, as given in the Player's Handbook). In addition, at 1st level she gets a +2 bonus on checks involving a skill of her selection (in exchange for the freedom of choice she gives up by preselecting her bonus feats). Finally, she gains a bonus ability at 6th level if she has met the listed prerequisites by that time. If the character hasn't yet met the prerequisites, she doesn't gain the bonus ability, even if she meets the prerequisites at some later time.
These fighting styles serve a variety of purposes in a campaign. Each one might symbolize a different monastery, creating a rivalry (friendly or unfriendly) between their students. Perhaps a specific master teaches each style only to a few select students, meaning that a monk must prove herself worthy before pursuing the training. Or maybe each monk simply chooses her own way in life, styling herself after great martial artists of the past.
A monk can abandon her fighting style by selecting a different bonus feat at 2nd or 6th level; however, if she does so, she loses the bonus on skill checks gained at 1st level and never gains the bonus ability of the fighting style (even if she meets the prerequisites).
Monks of the Cobra Strike School specialize in agility and defense. By making herself hard to pin down, the Cobra Strike monk forces the enemy to fight on her terms.
1st-Level Skill Bonus: Escape Artist.
1st-Level Feat: Dodge.
2nd-Level Feat: Mobility.
6th-Level Feat: Spring Attack.
6th-Level Bonus Ability: The dodge bonus to Armor Class granted by your Dodge feat increases to +2. Prerequisites: Balance 4 ranks, Escape Artist 9 ranks.
The Denying Stance monk seeks to neutralize the opponent's maneuvers, thwarting him at every turn until he becomes so frustrated that he makes a crucial error.
1st-Level Skill Bonus: Tumble.
1st-Level Feat: Improved Grapple.
2nd-Level Feat: Combat Reflexes.
6th-Level Feat: Improved Disarm.
6th-Level Bonus Ability: When fighting defensively or using the Combat Expertise feat, you gain a +2 bonus on grapple checks and disarm attempts. Prerequisites: Tumble 9 ranks, Combat Expertise.
Hand and Foot
Students of the Hand and Foot style learn to use their appendages for both offense and defense.
1st-Level Skill Bonus: Balance.
1st-Level Feat: Stunning Fist.
2nd-Level Feat: Deflect Arrows.
6th-Level Feat: Improved Trip.
6th-Level Bonus Ability: You gain a +2 bonus on attacks of opportunity made against an opponent attempting to bull rush or trip you, and a +4 bonus on Dexterity or Strength checks to avoid being tripped or bull rushed. Prerequisites: Balance 9 ranks, Tumble 4 ranks.
Monks of the Invisible Eye rely on their senses, particularly hearing, to aid them in combat.
1st-Level Skill Bonus: Listen.
1st-Level Feat: Combat Reflexes.
2nd-Level Feat: Lightning Reflexes.
6th-Level Feat: Blind-Fight.
6th-Level Bonus Ability: When unarmed and fighting defensively, using Combat Expertise, or using the total defense action, increase the dodge bonus to Armor Class that you gain from using that tactic by 1. Prerequisites: Listen 9 ranks, Agile.
A monk trained in the Overwhelming Attack style always presses the advantage, preferring a showy display of all-out offense to any form of defense.
1st-Level Skill Bonus: Intimidate.
1st-Level Feat: Power Attack.
2nd-Level Feat: Improved Bull Rush.
6th-Level Feat: Improved Overrun.
6th-Level Bonus Ability: If you have used Intimidate to demoralize your opponent at any time within the previous 10 rounds, you gain a +4 bonus on Strength checks made to bull rush or overrun that opponent. Prerequisites: Intimidate 4 ranks, Perform (dance) 4 ranks.
The Passive Way focuses on making your opponent overreach himself or underestimate your skill.
1st-Level Skill Bonus: Bluff.
1st-Level Feat: Combat Expertise.
2nd-Level Feat: Improved Trip.
6th-Level Feat: Improved Feint.
6th-Level Bonus Ability: You gain a +4 bonus on Strength checks made to trip an opponent who is denied his Dexterity bonus to Armor Class. Prerequisites: Bluff 4 ranks, Sense Motive 4 ranks, Skill Focus (Bluff).
The Sleeping Tiger style mixes smooth motions with powerful strikes. It favors a quick, first-strike approach, preferably from a position of ambush.
1st-Level Skill Bonus: Hide.
1st-Level Feat: Weapon Finesse.
2nd-Level Feat: Improved Initiative.
6th-Level Feat: Improved Sunder.
6th-Level Bonus Ability: Once per round, when an opponent would be denied his Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, the monk deals an extra 1d6 points of damage with a melee attack made with a light weapon. Any creature immune to sneak attacks is immune to this ability. Prerequisites: Hide 9 ranks, Power Attack.
Monks of the Undying Way believe in patience above all else. They work to outlast their opponents by means of superior endurance.
1st-Level Skill Bonus: Concentration.
1st-Level Feat: Toughness.
2nd-Level Feat: Endurance.
6th-Level Feat: Diehard.
6th-Level Bonus Ability: When fighting defensively, using Combat Expertise, or using the total defense action, the monk gains damage reduction 2/—. Prerequisites: Concentration 9 ranks.
|Skill name||Key ability||Trained only||Armor check penalty|